Thursday, October 01, 2009


In the last couple weeks I've had several semi-dormant projects take on new life. I'm not sure who was more surprised at this turn of events: the authors or I.

There's no predicting this turn of events. One of its characteristics is, after all, unexpected interest. It's fun, and maddening.

I have clients for whom I have not sold a book. As you might expect, the client isn't all that happy with this state of affairs. Sometimes the client is unhappy enough to leave. (Our author agency agreement gives everyone a 30 day right of termination of course; clients aren't actually indentured to me for life no matter what I tell them.)

Mostly though, they don't want to leave, they just want me to sell the damn thing. And I do keep trying. And as is the way of these things, my effort tends to taper off as the places to pitch narrow to a sad few. Usually at this point, the client is working on another project we hope will fare better.

Then sometimes, out of the blue, an editor will say "hey, I'm looking for Such and So" and after I regain my senses (because the editor was certainly NOT looking for Such OR So when I pitched before!) I am very happy to offer up Exhibit A: one lovely manuscript, with fresh crisp pages, in TNR 12 point, and delivered by a ripped bicycle messenger and oh goodness was that a stray bottle of whiskey in the pouch?; well never mind do keep it.

Or the publisher will reorganize, or branch out and suddenly Such and So is right there at the top of their wish list. I'm promptly draped on la telefonita pitching sweet words of woo to the editors there.

Or I'll figure out a whole new pitch that shows the manuscript in a New and Improved Light (cue chorus of heavenly angels here).

Sometimes this works.
Sometimes it doesn't.

It's one of the things that keeps every day new and exciting.
It's one of the things that keeps my clients climbing the walls.

And to repurpose what one of my fabu clients, Steve Ulfelder, says: "That's racing publishing!"


Skeptic said...

The only constant in the universe is that everything changes. It's nice to know this applies to publishing too. :)

Anonymous said...

I noticed you mentioned TNR 12-pt. font. At Seattle's PNWA conference in August, a book doctor told me to switch my manuscripts from TNR to Courier.

Got any advice, oh wise sage of the Publish-o-sphere?

Margaret Yang said...

Many agents give up on their clients long before their clients give up on them. Many of my close friends have had agents who give up after they've tried fewer than ten editors--some have given up after five. The agent drops the client and there is sadness all around.

I am so happy to hear of agents who DON'T do this. My agent doesn't do this either. Let's hear it for the old school agents!

Jm Diaz said...

Hear, hear for old school agents.. However, I must say: Professional etiquette should never be old school.

Thanks for ray of hope, cleverly disguised as a blog post.

laughingwolf said...

was that one hiccup, or two, in that glass of jack daniel's? ;)

Jeanne Tomlin said...

clients aren't actually indentured to me for life no matter what I tell them...

What no slave bracelet for signing? =)